Alexithymia in autism spectrum disorder

Cassie J. Ferguson, David A. Preece, Robert D. Schweitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

ObjectiveAlexithymia is a trait characterised by difficulty identifying and describing one's own emotions and externally orientated thinking. Alexithymia is of clinical interest in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) given research that has highlighted elevated levels of overall alexithymia in people with ASD. Presently, little is known about what specific facets of alexithymia might be impaired in ASD, or whether deficits are present for both negative and positive emotions. This study therefore aimed to fill this gap, establishing a facet-level profile of alexithymia in people with ASD.MethodUsing the Perth Alexithymia Questionnaire, levels of alexithymia were assessed in sample of 55 people with a diagnosis of ASD and compared with 246 people in a community control sample.ResultsWe found that all facets of alexithymia (across both valence domains) were substantially elevated in ASD (N = 55) compared to a community control sample (N = 246).ConclusionsAssessing all facets of alexithymia, across both valence domains, may help identify subgroups with particular social and communication difficulties, and in turn, support the development of personalised interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-137
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Volume58
Issue number2
Early online dateFeb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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